Aglio e Scalogno

Aglio e Scalogno
Aglio e Scalogno: Garlic and Shallots at the Christmas Market in Florence

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Travel360Network member

I just learned about the WineSkin bag (, which I'm going to order and try on my next trip for bringing home wine. In the past, I've brought bubble wrap, neoprene bags such as the ones by Built, NY, and cylindrical cardboard bottle holders. I've brought home many bottles of wine and olive oil, and I've yet to break one! I think these WineSkins look really cool, though. If anyone has experience with these, please let me know!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

I recommend that you visit to listen some great music by a darling and very talented Italian artist - she is a superstar in Italy! Elisa came to Salt Lake City recently on her first American & Canadian tour, and I went to the club to see her perform. She was awesome! I've just received one of her CD/DVD sets from Now all I need is to get my portable region-free, zone-free DVD player so I can watch the DVD (it won't play on a regular U.S. DVD player).

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Monday, November 17, 2008

Italy trip Dec 2005

Tramonto a Roma - Roman Sunset - December 2005

In December 2005, I had the opportunity to travel with my boss to Italy to attend a research conference in Genoa, and she and I decided to extend our trip into a week's vacation. I studied Italian intensively for 3 weeks prior to the trip and tried to speak as much Italian as I could during the trip. I used to be fluent in French, so it wasn't as hard as it might otherwise have been :-) Trying to connect with the locals in their native language really enhanced my overall experience. I could tell that they were touched by my efforts (and amused at my mistakes!). After our conference in Genoa, we hopped on a train and headed "solo andata" (one-way) to Pisa before proceeding to Rome. Whereas others had told me that Pisa was 'boring' or a 'let-down' or 'not worth seeing,' I found it breathtaking and exhilerating. We rounded the corner in the cab at night, on a full moon, to have the Leaning Tower come into view right in front of us. I was moved to tears. The next morning, we climbed the steps, the worn, marble steps once walked by Galileo, to the very top for a spectacular view of the city and the mountains to the northeast. What part of that was 'boring' or 'not worth seeing?' Here we are at the top of the Leaning Tower:

Pisa is also where I first heard about and experienced a wonderful Tuscan treat - vin santo with cantuccini. Vin santo is a sweet dessert wine made from dried grapes, and it is enjoyed by dunking cantucci, or cantuccini (small cookies, or biscotti) into the glass. Certainly not 'boring!'

Then we traveled to Rome. I am not a city person, per se. I generally prefer being in the woods and the mountains, away from the crowds. However, there was something so remarkable about the ancient history of Rome that I felt myself wanting to stay, and wanting to try living there for a while. We hired a guide and explored the Forum, Trevi Fountain, Piazza Navona, and the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel. That evening, we enjoyed an incredibly delicious feast at Il Giardino, a restaurant right near our Hotel, the Antica Roma, specializing in Sardinian food. I made the grave error (!) of telling the waiter how much I was enjoying the Sicilian food - oh Mamma Mia, not a good mistake to make! He feigned terrible indignation, and then kindly explained my 'faux pas.' :-) We also did a fair amount of shopping and found a terrific shop selling our new favorite - limoncello! Here is my boss trying to decide which bottle(s) of limoncello to buy!

Italy New Year's Eve Tour Dec 06/Jan 07

In December 2006, I participated in Giuliana's

La Contadina New Year's eve tour. This is our

group after a day spent savoring the Umbrian town of Assisi. We arrived in Rome and transferred to Siena, where we experienced fabulous Tuscan food and wine and where we toured the Campo and the enjoyed exploring the historic city center. One of my biggest adventures was finding the yarn shop I'd identified on-line before my trip, and I did find it, and I bought many beautiful skeins of Italian yarn! The shopkeepers were very kind and quite amused at my excitement over finding them :-)

After a side trip to Monteriggione, a true Tuscan gem, we left Tuscany for Umbria and settled into a lovely "castello" (a beautifully-renovated farm house on extensive and well-kept grounds) on the outskirts of Assisi. What a fabulous place for a New Year's Eve celebration, and a great home base for excursions into Assisi and Todi.

The end of our tour would find us in Spoleto, a hilltop town in southern Umbria featuring an ancient Roman theater, the impressive Ponte delle Torri, and the site of our cooking class - a memorable afternoon and evening indeed! Here is a picture of us in our cooking class:

Don't Just Dream It - Do It ! Let us take you on a tour of a lifetime!

Don't Just Dream It - Do It !   Let us take you on a tour of a lifetime!
L to R: Marybeth, Giuliana (owner/founder) Steve (filmmaker)

Giuliana, owner of La Contadina Travels and Tours

Giuliana, owner of La Contadina Travels and Tours
Giuliana, on the right, leading a tour in Umbria

Steven Robert McCurdy, documentary filmmaker and my fellow tour guide

Steven Robert McCurdy, documentary filmmaker and my fellow tour guide
Steve taking a self-portrait in Italy

Another self-portrait of Steve, who is co-leading the tour with me

Another self-portrait of Steve, who is co-leading the tour with me

Italian Club of Salt Lake

If you're in Utah or coming for a visit and are interested in events related to Italian culture, music, or food, check the Italian Club of Salt Lake (ICSL) website for information: .

The ICSL also offers wonderful Italian language classes in a fun and comfortable setting at Raw Bean Cafe', at 611 South West Temple (great access off I-15). I'm the coordinator of the classes as well as a student, and believe me, the classes are great!